2014 King Of The Motos

Story By Michael Allen • Photos By Nicole Dreon

After racing King of the Motos in 2013 and being the last Pro to finish before the time cut off, I decided to have another go at it in 2014. But this year though I decided to enter the Sportsman class, seeing as how I have no business competing against the likes of Cody Webb, Taylor Robert, Cory Graffunder, and Kyle Redmond. After some discussion the Dirt Rider crew decided that I would compete on a 2014 KTM 300 XC; after all, this bike was made for extreme enduros and tough terrain. We outfitted the bike with the necessary protection that included a pipe guard, skid plate, hand guards, Flexx bar, linkage guard, grab handles and a new chain guide before heading out to Johnson Valley, California and enjoying the area that our government is taking away from the OHV community.

Michael Allen. Photo by Nicole Dreon

The format for the 2014 KOM differed from last year’s two laps around an 80-mile loop. Instead, this year there were three separate races, a Saturday qualifier, a Sunday morning loop, and a Sunday afternoon loop. The qualifier was held on a one-mile course with one rider starting every two minutes. All 95 entrants prior to qualifying had drawn a start position out of a hat in the riders meeting. The finishing time for the qualifier determined start position for the Sunday morning loop. The qualifier course was mostly fast desert style terrain with two rocky technical sections in the middle. I drew sixteenth in the sportsman class and had a fairly clean run, only stalling the bike twice but was saved by the magic button. I finished with a time of 3:32, which put me as top sportsman and 18th overall.

Having a good qualifying time turned out to be a real blessing the next day. I started on the ninth minute with only 17 people in front of me, most of them being better riders so I knew there would be no bottlenecks. The morning of the race was a cold 25 degrees. I put on a spandex undershirt, a jersey, and shivered my way to the starting line. I got off to a good start but when I came to the first technical section I started choosing bad lines and making mistakes. It took me way too long to clear the first canyon, was passed by a few riders in the process and I knew that I needed to pick it up. As I got on to a dry lake bed I picked up the pace and held it wide open at about 75 mph only to look over my shoulder and see a helicopter pacing me at a rocks throw. It was a little nerve wracking feeling and hearing the concussions of the whirling blades. I gave them a friendly wave, did a wheelie and then they continued to follow me for another three miles before taking off to another section of the course. After the first climb on loop one the terrain got easier and snaked along some rocky single track and through a few handlebar wide canyons before opening up to another long, wide open-road section. I was able to pass a few riders who didn’t seem to be comfortable at that high of speeds. One of the last sections of the first loop was a long sandy uphill with nasty rocks at the top. It didn’t look too bad and I figured I would fly right up it but I was wrong. The first attempt was a bad line and I found out what happens when the rear wheel is spinning in third gear then finds traction (it involves a bike upside down and a lot of physical work). On the second attempt I rushed myself, didn’t get a good run and had to turn around half way up. The third time I was able to make it clean but I had lost two positions in the process. With only one rocky canyon left I chose some good lines and was able to pass the two riders who had passed me and make it to the finish, completing the 40 mile loop in about 1 hour and 45 minutes, finishing 24th overall and first sportsman.

Michael Allen. Photo by Nicole Dreon

We had about two and a half hours before the start of loop two (the hard loop) and our bikes were placed in a gated area where only the riders were allowed to work on them. I checked my oil, filled my coolant and decided to change the rear tire since it was fairly worn out. Around noon we were told to head over to the start of loop two where we would be told how the start would work. We got to the top of a sand dune that overlooked a nasty rocky canyon and found out it was a Le Mans style start with a land rush up the canyon. When the flag dropped I got a decent start and was working my way up the rocks until I got stuck and started a small bottleneck. I got the rear wheel spinning and was hunting for traction and before I knew it the bike was out from under me and on top of the rocky ledge I was ascending. I hopped up, picked up the bike and continued to the top. From there it was rocky canyon after rocky canyon and they never seemed to end. It felt like I was playing cat and mouse with the same riders for over an hour. We helped each other up one section and would point out good lines when we saw them. We would come to climbs and look up, thinking out loud, “You can’t ride a dirt bike up that!” only to start making our way up and conquering the climbs with hard work and determination. Half way through loop two we came to the remote gas stop and filled our tanks, our coolant, ate protein bars and guzzled water. About three miles after the pit we came to a downhill canyon - this was one of the hardest canyons I have ever had the pleasure of descending. It took about thirty minutes to go a 1/8 of a mile, but I was able to pass two more riders in the process. We then looped back around to the remote gas stop and refilled with enough fuel and coolant to ride the remaining 14 miles. The last real tough section was a rocky and sandy canyon. It’s not that the terrain was hard but it was never ending rocks with loose sand. I sucked it up, pushed through the pain and exhaustion and was able to crest the top and see the valley that I knew would lead me to the finish. After that, there was only one downhill ridge trail that led to the checkered flag.

It was an amazing feeling to finish the race and I crossed the line as the first sportsman and 21st overall. Upon looking over the bike after the race the only real carnage was a missing air box cover, a broken side plate, and minor dings and scratches. When all was said and done I must say that the 2014 KOM was the most challenging event I have ever competed in.

Michael Allen. Photo by Nicole Dreon